UN calls for Turkey to end state of emergency, halt violations

A photo taken on March 19, 2018 shows a general view of the damage in the Syrian Kurdish city of Afrin a day after Turkish-led forces entered the city. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2018
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UN calls for Turkey to end state of emergency, halt violations

GENEVA: The United Nations called on Turkey on Tuesday to end its 20-month-old state of emergency and accused Ankara of mass arrests, arbitrary sackings and other abuses that in some cases amounted to “collective punishment.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said the report was filled with unfounded allegations and compared the criticism with propaganda announcements from militant groups.
The UN human rights office said Turkey had arrested 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil servants since a failed coup in July 2016.
The crackdown was having a “chilling effect” on Turkish society by showing that any dissent will be punished, the UN added.
The state of emergency, declared by President Tayyip Erdogan after the coup bid and still in force, has been used to justify the torture of detainees and interference with the judiciary, the UN human rights office said.
Turkey should “promptly end the state of emergency and restore the normal functioning of institutions and the rule of law,” the UN report said.
The Foreign Ministry in Ankara said the report showed prejudice against Turkey and ignored “the severe and multiple terrorist threats” it was facing.
The report “contains unfounded allegations matching up perfectly with the propaganda efforts of terrorist organizations,” the ministry added.
The Turkish government blames the network of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim cleric, for the failed coup attempt during which 250 people were killed. Gulen has denied any involvement.
Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the numbers of people arrested or dismissed are “just staggering.”
Nearly 160,000 people have been arrested and 152,000 civil servants sacked, “many totally arbitrarily,” in the 18 months through to December 2017, he said in a statement.
“Teachers, judges and lawyers dismissed or prosecuted; journalists arrested, media outlets shut down and websites blocked — clearly the successive states of emergency declared in Turkey have been used to severely and arbitrarily curtail the human rights of a very large number of people,” Zeid said.
The report, based on 104 interviews, describes the use of torture and ill-treatment in custody, including severe beatings, sexual assault, electric shocks and waterboarding by police, gendarmerie, military police and security forces.
“We have taken into account the fact that Turkey is combating a large number of terrorist attacks,” UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a news briefing.
She said victims included at least 50 women detained just before or after having given birth, some separated from their babies. One woman had been shackled by her legs immediately after a miscarriage, she added.
“We have reports that people were detained and ill-treated without charge by anti-terror police units and security forces at places like sports centers and hospitals, as well as detention facilities,” she added.
Shamdasani, asked whether the violations constitute collective punishment — illegal under international law — replied: “There clearly are instances where people are being collectively punished.”


US terror survey blames Iran for 'fomenting violence' in Middle East

Updated 55 sec ago
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US terror survey blames Iran for 'fomenting violence' in Middle East

  • The US has once again named Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism
  • The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon's Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened

WASHINGTON: The US has once again named Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, accusing it of intensifying numerous conflicts and trying to undermine governments throughout the Middle East.
The State Department's annual survey of global terrorism released on Wednesday said Iran and its proxies are responsible for fomenting violence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon's Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened from the war in Syria and with valuable battlefield experience they seek to leverage elsewhere.

"Iran remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining US interests in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, Afghanistan, and Lebanon," he said.
All three -- Daesh, Al-Qaeda and Iran -- "have both the capability and intent to strike the United States and our allies," State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales said.
The report indicated a general increase in global cooperation to fight terrorism, including tracking and blocking financial flows to the groups.
But this remains a challenge, Sales noted.
"You have got to stop the flow of money to these organizations."
"You have got to stop terrorist travel" as well, he added, pointing to the spread of airport detection systems like biometric face identification as a potent tool.
In addition, the survey reported a 24 percent decrease in attacks around the world between 2016 and 2017. That was due mainly to a sharp decline in the number of attacks in Iraq, where the Daesh group has been largely displaced.